Open letter: NSW needs to be more ambitious to reduce extreme heat

MEDIA RELEASE: Experts, community leaders, local government leaders and NGOs call for more ambition in NSW to tackle urban heat emergency

November 3rd 2021

Experts, community leaders, local government leaders and civil society have signed onto an open letter calling for the NSW Government to lead Australia in reducing the impacts of extreme heat on our communities and building climate change resilient cities. Over 20 experts, leaders and organisations have signed onto the open letter to the NSW Premier, Planning Minister and Minister for Western Sydney that is being launched publicly on today. 

“The current Design and Place State Environmental Planning Policy review is a huge opportunity to be as ambitious as possible for more energy efficient homes and more liveable and equitable communities,” said Sweltering Cities Executive Director Emma Bacon. 

“People in our hottest suburbs are dreading the summer. They’re anxious about how they can stay safe with their families during heatwaves, how they’ll pay electricity bills for cooling, and how they’ll be able to work in the baking heat of summer. 

“Sweltering Cities has worked with experts, leaders and organisations who all support more ambitious action to reduce urban heat in NSW to develop this letter. We believe that NSW can be more ambitious in reducing urban heat, delivering climate mitigation and adaptation, and supporting communities in our sweltering suburbs.”

“We need to stop building urban heat islands and commit to higher standards for healthier, greener, more sustainable suburbs. The next few years must be transformational years for reducing extreme heat in NSW.

“Today we’re writing to the NSW Premier, Planning Minister and Minister for Western Sydney asking for them to meet with a delegation of signatories to discuss the urgent need to build more climate resilient cities and consult with the community for local solutions to extreme heat.” said Ms Bacon. 

Barry Calvert, President of the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils said: 

“Heat impacts all parts of our city – heath, energy networks, transport, telecommunications, economy, worker productivity and our environment – and Western Sydney is suffering the worst effects. WSROC has been working with councils on guidance for planning cooler suburbs, community heat preparedness, and extreme heat management, but we need the state government on board to take the next steps.”

Dr Kim Loo, Riverstone GP and member of the NSW Australian Medical Association Council said: 

“I can see the impact of extreme heat on the health of my patients. Increasing inequality is deepening the health divide in Australia. Too often health is a distant consideration when we’re developing planning, energy or infrastructure policies. The social and environmental determinants of health can be addressed through better policies that prioritise community safety and climate action.”

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